Facebook is keen to turn its video ad business into another key revenue-generating platform, but to make it work, it’s going to have to deal with the fake news bogeyman who has grown so big that (try as we might) cannot be ignored.
On Wednesday, Facebook revealed it’s answer to fake news in the form of paying three companies—Fox, CNN and Univision—to provide news content on Facebook ‘Watch’.
There probably aren’t too many media experts who would agree that Fox and CNN are ultimately answers to our fake news problem, but given their increasingly diverse political partisanship, Facebook seems to be hoping that it will all balance out.
The shows should launch this year, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Fox News’ Shepard Smith and Univision’s Jorge Ramos. But the mainstream producer list is longer, too, with shows planned by ABC News and others.
“We tried to assemble a diverse set of partners who are already doing quality news who are also really adept at engaging the audience,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, told Reuters in an interview.
Will it be a cure for the fake news epidemic or the clickbait sensationalism that spreads through societies like wildfire, causing societal divisions, political upheaval and even violence? Related: How Russian Gold Production Will Help Ditch The Dollar
Is Facebook-funded journalism the answer? Maybe. After all, Facebook propagated fake news worked very well …
In the least, it will change Facebook’s long-controversial ‘trending news’ feature, launched in 2014 and containing an algorithm that selects the trending topics based on how many stories have been posted on the topic and how users interact to that. The feature itself is a fake news bonanza and helps hoaxes spread at the speed of light. That feature will be removed.
For Facebook, putting out the fake news fire is only secondary. This is business, and it will benefit the mainstream news outlets as well because not only will they get paid to produce, but they’ll also get a share of the ad revenue.
But not everyone’s happy. This isn’t the first time Facebook has gone down this path. In 2016, the social media giant signed one-year contract deals with CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times for live video content. Those deals expired and weren’t renewed, and this time around WSJ or NYT haven’t shown up on the preliminary list.
What this is really about is upping the ante in the video ad rivalry between Facebook, YouTube, Snap and Twitter—and so far, Facebook’s ‘Watch’ hasn’t been able to turn the table on its competition.
What do investors think? It’s hard to tell right now. The stock is trading down this morning on news that the social media giant has been sharing data with the Chinese ..
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But at the end of the day, it won’t be data privacy issues—Russian or Chinese—that investors consider. Facebook is a massive advertising business, and nothing more. For better or worse, that’s all investors are looking at and the only thing that matters is this: Ad sales increased 47 percent last year.
By Charles Benavidez for Safehaven.com
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